A new CRF pedestrian bridge is expected by 2025

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At Florida International University’s ceremony on Tuesday to unveil a memorial honoring the six people killed when a walkway under construction suddenly collapsed four years ago, a Florida Department of Transportation official said unveiled a plaque the state will place on the new bridge once it is built.

“To the families of these people: please accept my deepest condolences for your loss. I am truly sorry for your loss and want you to know that they will always be remembered,” said Danny Iglesias, Director of Transportation Development at FDOT.

The FIU memorial included a bronze statue of Alexa Duran, the only FIU student killed in the disaster four years ago, surrounded by five lampposts representing the other five victims. She was 18 years old.

“In addition to the wonderful tribute that the CRF has created, the FDOT would also like to commemorate the lives that were lost on March 15, 2018,” Iglesias added.

Iglesias unveiled a rendering of a bronze plaque that FDOT will create with the names of the six people who died. Under each name and date of birth, family members of the victims added a few words, Iglesias said, thanking them for their cooperation.

Beneath Navaro Brown, the workman killed from the top of the bridge, the plaque will read: “A wonderful son, brother and husband. We still feel your presence. You are forever in our hearts.”

Under Brandon Brownfield: “His passion for life was evident to all. A loving husband, father and son who were taken too soon. You are always in our hearts.”

FDOT will temporarily display the plaque somewhere near the scene of the tragedy, near Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue. Once a new bridge is built, FDOT will transfer the plate to the structure.

The state plans to complete the new bridge in 2025

After the bridge collapsed, FDOT resumed construction of a new bridge, which will cost approximately $15.5 million.

In 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the “catastrophic failure” of the bridge stemmed from faulty design and major errors. The NTSB has blasted everyone involved in the project — from the CRF to the FDOT to MCM, the bridge contractor Miami-Dade commissioners cleared last year to keep its $70 million contract with Miami International Airport.

The FDOT, the Town of Sweetwater and the CRF are covering the cost of building the new bridge, as well as grants from the Federal Highway Administration’s Transport Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

The total TIGER project, which includes land value in Sweetwater, transit and non-bridge technology, is worth $20.6 million, according to an FDOT statement provided to the Herald through FIU spokesperson Maydel Santana.

FDOT will hold a public meeting in the spring to discuss design concepts and other details. Currently, 60% of the design is complete.

On June 13, the architects will submit 90% of the design, and then on September 26, 100% of the design, according to information provided by Santana. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2023 and take approximately two years.

In a recent interview, CRF Acting Chairman Kenneth Jessell said he attends monthly meetings at the new bridge. Jessell replaced Mark Rosenberg, who abruptly resigned in January amid allegations that he made unwanted advances to a young woman who worked with him.

“There are going to be two towers rather than the central pylon. It will be a steel bridge rather than a concrete bridge,” Jessel said. “It’s not the same design; the design has been significantly improved.

This story was originally published March 15, 2022 9:07 p.m.

Jimena Tavel covers higher education for the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald. She is a bilingual journalist with triple nationality: Honduran, Cuban and Costa Rican. Born and raised in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, she moved to Florida when she was 17. She earned her journalism degree from the University of Florida in 2018 and joined the Herald shortly after.

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